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Yoshiko Urayama
President of the Chicago Shimpo



Keiko Yanai, Deputy Consul General


Edward Grant, former President of
the Japan America Society of Chicago


ThomasW. Hayes, Mayor of the
the Village of Arlington Heights


Tetsuya Terada, Chairman of JCCC


Hajime Ozaki, Hajime Ozaki, Bureau Chief
of Kyodo News in New York

The Chicago Shimpo Celebrates Its 70th Anniversary
Its Articles Depict A History of US-Japan Relations

• The Chicago Shimpo celebrated its 70th anniversary on November 14 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Arlington Heights, and about 110 people attended. A witty M.C.,Donna Gerlich, guided the ceremony.
• The newspaper was founded on November 15, 1945 by Ryoichi Fujii. After his departure, Raikaku Nakagawa, Shinao Masuda, Kohachiro Sugimoto, Takeo Sugano, and Akiko Sugano continued the paper, and Yoshiko Urayama took over the paper in January, 2000. As of today, the sequence number is 6025.

• In her greeting remarks, Yoshiko Urayama, President of the Chicago Shimpo, said that she was overwhelmed by a great number of events when she took a look at the past 70 years of the articles. “The articles depict the stories of our ancestors to strive to become better citizens or residents in Chicagoland and the Midwest. The articles also tell the stories of our community people’s efforts to promote mutual understanding, do businesses, and enjoy bilateral benefits between the U.S. and Japan,” Urayama said.
• She also said, “Today, I would like to encourage the Chicago Shimpo to be proud of what it has done for 70 years; otherwise, the records of our community might have been lost.”

• Deputy Consul General Keiko Yanai congratulated the Chicago Shimpo and said that the paper would have been read regularly for years and years, and every issue existed on paper or microfilm, which offered remarkable windows to the Japanese and Japanese American Communities in Chicago.
• Yanai also said that Urayama had criteria to keep the paper at the highest standard and publish it on time. She praised the Chicago Shimpo saying, “The stories present the latest news justifiably and actively with a human touch.”

• Edward Grant, President of the Japan America Society of Chicago, spoke about the Chicago Shimpo’s role in institutions, original record, and activity purpose.
• He said that Shimpo was a key institution, which formed a community, for the Japanese American community. Regarding original record, Grant placed Shimpo in the same position as the New York Times, which has been often referred as a newspaper of record. He said that Shimpo’s articles were incredibly accurate and very comprehensive about a topic, and Urayama has kept the subsequent tradition of the Chicago Shimpo.
• The Japan America Society of Chicago and the Chicago Shimpo have shared the idea of promoting US-Japan relationship. Grant said that he could not think of a higher and more important shared purpose than that of supporting and building relationships between the two countries.
• Grant applauded Urayama saying, “You are a part of great history and great tradition with the Chicago Shimpo, and all of us are beneficiaries of your devoted labor and skills.”

• Mayor Thomas W. Hayes of Arlington Heights welcomed the Japanese community as a valued community partner, which has contributed to the quality life in the Village. He also congratulated the Chicago Shimpo as the only English/Japanese bilingual paper in the area, and said that Shimpo has done its mission very well. One of the Shimpo’s missions is to take a role to deepen the mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan as one of the bridges between the two countries.

• Tetsuya Terada, Chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago, paid tribute to Ryoichi Fujii, the founder of Shimpo, for establishing a newspaper in a difficult time after WWII. He also praised the successive presidents and staff members to continue the paper for years.
• Terada applauded Urayama saying, “Her passion for the job was beyond occupational commitment. Her passion was so great.”

• Taka Urayama, President of the Taka Information Technologies and a computer consultant for Shimpo, made a toast, and a luncheon was served. During the luncheon time, articles from the past 10 years were screened.

• After the luncheon, guest speaker Hajime Ozaki, Bureau Chief of Kyodo News in New York, spoke about “70 years of Post-War US-Japan Relations.” The Kyodo News has three bureaus in the U.S., and about 20 journalists from Japan have reported on politics, economics, and social affairs in the U.S.

• After Ozaki’s speech, the Chicago Shimpo made a presentation on “US-Japan Relations through the 70 year history of the Chicago Shimpo.”
• After the presentation, Yoshiko Urayama said, “The 70 years of history is not for retrospection, but for actions for tomorrow. The Chicago Shimpo will work with you for better US-Japan relations from tomorrow.”

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“70 years of Post-War US-Japan Relations”
By Hajime Ozaki

• There used to be a dozen Japanese papers in existence in the U.S., but only four including Chicago Shimpo survived. The causes of the disappearance were mainly the change in communities and change of media from paper to digital media.
• Nowadays, information can be easily obtained what you want. Ozaki questioned, “What is the importance of the newspaper today?”
• He said that lack of nutrition could give your body negative effects, and the same was applied to news, which worked as nutrition for your mind. “If you are not aware of the important events happening outside of your interests, you might become a very isolated person with imbalanced perspective,” he said.
• Ozaki commended the Chicago Shimpo for its wider coverage from politics to economy to social life, and encouraged the audience to support the paper.

• In the second half of his speech, Ozaki spoke about two American scholars. One is John W. Dower, historian in MIT. His book “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II” became a best seller in Japan.
• Another is Gerald L. Curtis, political scientist at the Columbia University. He authored “Election Campaigning Japanese Style” and an essay “Politics and Swordfish”, in Japanese.

• About Dower
• Dower had concerns about the sanitization of the history. He worries that the memories of a war can be easily purified and distorted by nationalism and propaganda, and stresses the importance of historic events from the viewpoints of all parties involved from every direction.
• For instance, Ozaki said that Japanese often said that Japan was only victim of atomic bombs. Because of that, Japanese were raised to make a peaceful nation and promote nuclear disarmament. Japanese, however, should remember that many people had suffered from the past militarism of Japan in Asia.
• Dower wished Japan to become a vanguard of pacifism by promoting the idea of Article Nine of the Japanese constitution; however, he regrets that the idea of pacifism has been sharply declining in Japan.

• About Curtis
• Curtis’s concern is the problems in the political system in Japan. He was very much disappointed to see the picture of opposition members rushing at Chairman Konoike of the House of Councillors peace safety legislation Special Committee to prevent a vote on the security bills, and fighting with the members of the ruling party. Curtis said that it was the same picture he saw in the 1950s and 1960s.
• Curtis said that the situation of Japanese politics seemed to be something called “tyranny of majority”, and Japanese politics were far from the healthy democracy. Ozaki said that Curtis attributed the cause of the sickness to the lack of substantial opposition, and there was much to worry about in the present and future Japanese democracy.

• What is happening among young people now?

• Ozaki brought his concern about young Japanese people, who don’t know about the war that happened between the U.S. and Japan, during a discussion with Dower. Dower said that American youths were the same. A high-school teacher was explaining WWII and how the U.S. fought with Japan. A student questioned about which side won the war. While Ozaki thought the story would not represent everything of the youth, he also said, “It tells you how far we have come 70 years after the war.”

• US-Japan Alliance

• The US-Japan Alliance has become stronger ever since WWII, especially after Japan passed the security bills that enabled closer ties of military alliance. Ozaki wondered whether the alliance could promote the stability and security of the Pacific and the Northeast Asia. “There are a handful of issues that shall be addressed properly to promote peace, security, and prosperity,” he said.
• One is the complication of relocation of Futenma Airbase in Okinawa, but he said that it was a domestic issue between Okinawa government and Tokyo, and should have minimal negative effects on the American base.
• One of the other issues is increased negative feeling toward Japan’s neighboring countries and the U.S. Ozaki said, “I feel this is very dangerous sign of isolationism.” Japan cannot live alone and that was proven by the history. Ozaki concluded that the Japanese American community could contribute to the mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan, and the Kyodo News, as a member of media, could facilitate the community contributions.

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Excerption from “US-Japan Relations through the 70 year history of the Chicago Shimpo”

• In November 1945, Christian church alliance with Buddhist churches started to help Japanese people by sending 5,500 pounds of clothes, 550 pairs of shoes, and $700 in cash to Japan.
• The following year, a charity entertainment was held for helping Japan. Some of Okinawan descent also sent 8,267 pounds of clothes, and $ 13,000 in cash to Japan. Those donations helped 150,000 people in Japan.

• In 1946, a Sumo tournament was held at Chicago’s south side Lake Park. This event drew public attention to the Japanese culture.

Restart of US-Japan relations after WWII

• In August 1950, the Japanese government sent a trading group to the World Exhibition held at Navy Pier. It was the first group to attend such an Exhibition after WWII. It was not successful because the group could not get enough information and local support. The group said that lighters, glass products and toys sold well, but textile goods did not because of the price fluctuations due to the Korean War. However, attending the Exhibition was not a complete failure. The next year would be better, the group said.

• In December, The McCarran-Walter Immigration and Naturalization Act allowed Japanese to immigrate to the US.
• In January 1953, Daiichi Ginko became the first Japanese bank to open its office in Chicago. Daiichi Ginko was also the very first Japanese firm that came to Chicago.

• On February 3, 1954, the date of Japan Airlines first flight to San Francisco. The twice weekly flight service began.
• In April, 1955, Daiichi Bussan opened an office. It was the first Japanese trading company that came to Chicago.

• In 1961, Japan Club, a pre-organization club of JCCC, was founded. Tomen and Japan National Tourist Organization opened Chicago offices.

Rapid development of US-Japan business relations and busy exchange of business missions

• In May, 1965, Kikkoman International opened its Chicago office.
• From this year, 2000 to 4000 Japanese were allowed to immigrate per year due to modified US immigration regulations. The previous number of immigrants was 185 per year.

• In 1966, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago (JCCC), was founded. The first chairman was Ryujiro Tanaka of Marubeni Iida.

• In 1968, Yasukawa Electric America opened its Chicago office. Mitsui Senpaku Osaka Shosen promoted its small office to the Chicago branch office.
• Around this time, 10,000-ton passenger boats such as, Soto Maru and Mogami Maru, often came up to Navy Pier traveling through the Pacific Ocean, Panama Canal, Atlantic Ocean, St. Lawrence Seaway, and Lake Michigan.

• In 1970, Kamatsu America Corp. opened an office in Chicago.
• Sumitomo bank opened a Chicago branch in May.
• In 1972, Daiichi Kangyo bank opened the First Pacific Bank of Chicago.
• Sanwa Bank and Mitsubishi Bank opened offices in Chicago.

• In 1985, 166 members of “Asia Trade Mission” headed by Illinois governor James Thompson visited Japan.
• Twenty-eight members of “Chicago City Economy Mission” headed by Chicago Mayor Harold Washington visited Osaka.
• One hundred members of a business mission headed by the Illinois Secretary of Commerce visited Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo.

Expanding US-Japan cultural exchanges

• In 1960, many festivals were held in the US to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the US-Japan Treaty of Amity. In Chicago, the Japan America council donated 20 cherry trees to Chicago’s botanical garden.

• In 1968, in celebration of Meiji’s 100th anniversary, the 25th remembrance of the Japanese American’s evacuation and to promote goodwill for US-Japan relations, the Japanese community donated 300 cherry blossom trees to the City of Chicago and planted them in Lincoln Park.
• A Lakefront Festival was held in August and a Japanese houseboat “Tokyo-maru” joined the Festival in Lake Michigan. Mitsubishi Heavy Industry took leadership to build a houseboat. The cost of the houseboat was 10,000,000 yen. It could carry a total of 12 passengers and crew.

• Sumitomo Bank and Sanwa’s offices were promoted as a Chicago branch and started bank services to customers.
• The number of Japanese banks in Chicago increased to 7. Mitsui Bank and Tokai Bank came later.

• In 1981, the first Japan Day was held at the Botanic Garden. A wide range of Japanese culture was introduced.

Spouting Anti-Japanese

• In 1984, the Chicago City Council discussed the possibility of a short term loan from the Japanese-American community because of its huge deficit. Mitsubishi Bank offered the interest of $3.1 million. On the other hand, First National Bank in Chicago offered $158.2 million. The council took a vote on the loan from Mitsubishi Bank, and the voting went 13 to2 in favor. Two aldermen strongly opposed it citing Pearl Harbor and the US-Japan war. The Japanese and Japanese-Americans reconfirmed the existing prejudice against Japan. The Chicago Shimpo printed an angry editorial rebutting the two aldermen.

Communities and Japanese Companies

• The Chicago Symphony Orchestra announced that 2 firms related to Toyota Automobile donated $500,000.
• In 1989, the Japanese government donated $1 million to the Art Institute of Chicago, which needed $4 million to complete the much needed improvements including the Asian Gallery. Mitsubishi Bank also donated $1 million.
• Mitsui & Co. Inc. donated $70,000 to Evanston Township High School for a Japanese study program.

• In 1990, Motorola donated $750,000 to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to make its Japan tour possible. The CSO needed $1.25 million additional funds to meet the total budget of $2.15 million for this Japan tour. Hearing of the budget problem, Motorola had offered their donation.

• US-Japan cultural exchange programs contribute to business development

• The Consulate General of Japan at Chicago held its first Japanese speech contest at the Holiday Inn Center.

• The JET program began. Three thousand candidates nationwide applied to the program; 500 were selected. Seventy-seven applicants were selected from the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago’s jurisdiction. The Japanese government was planning to expand the JET program if it worked well.

• The Chicago Shimpo donated copies from the first issue to the 12/1969 issue to the Illinois State Library in Springfield. Those copies were kept as microfilms. Over 1000 newspapers are on file and Chicago Shimpo became the first Japanese newspaper in the collection.

• In 1996, promotional campaigns of Japanese Sake began in the US. A Sake taste testing event was held at the Benkei Restaurant in Chicago where 200 people gathered.

US-Japan exchange events continued

• In 2005, Shozo Sato’s English kabuki “Lady Macbeth” was performed at the Shakespeare Theatre from March 11 to May 1. It was the first performance in a major venue, and Sato’s former student made it possible.

• Haruki Murakami’s, “After the Quake” began at the Steppenwolf Theatre from the end of November. The background music was only a cello and koto (Japanese strings). The koto player was Jeff Wickman.

• In 2006, the City of Chicago remembered Pearl Harbor on December 7 at Navy Pier. About 10 survivors as well as other veterans and their families, attended the memorial ceremony. One of the survivors answered Chicago Shimpo’s interview and said, “(The feelings for Japan) were terrible. Now that generations have passed, we will not forget what the place was like.” After 65 years have passed, he said, “Well, It’s over. My friend is in Japan now. We are not the same people from that time during the war.”

• The year of 2014 started with the article that the City of Chicago has kept a promise between Chicago and the Japanese government for 120 years after Ho-o-den was donated to Chicago as a symbol of friendship. Robert Karr has been working to revive the premises of Ho-o-den and the surrounding area as Phoenix Garden. One hundred and twenty cherry trees were already planted in the area.

• The entire article is available in the book “US-Japan Relations through the 70 year history of the Chicago Shimpo”. To obtain the book, send your request with $5 shipping and handling fee to the Chicago Shimpo at the address below.
• 2045 S. Arlington Heights Rd., #108C
• Arlington Heights, IL 60005